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U.S. Secretary of State arrives to promote Israeli-PNA peace talks

By Xinhua,

Jerusalem : U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice arrived here on Saturday evening to promote the stalled negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian National Authority(PNA).

As she flew to the region for a two-day visit, Rice told reporters that she planned to review whether Israel had taken steps on the ground to make life easier for Palestinians as she urged Israel not to undercut Palestinian security forces as they deploy in the West Bank and questioned if its promises to remove roadblocks had been kept, local website ynetnews reported.

She is also expected to assess the extent to which the Palestinians have honored their own commitments, which include cracking down on militants that launch attacks on Israel, ynetnews reported.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ security forces began deploying to the northern West Bank city of Jenin on Saturday for a law-and-order campaign meant to show the government is laying the ground for statehood.

Palestinian officials have long complained Israel had undercut their forces by launching raids in areas where they are trying to assume responsibility for security.

“There have to be very insistent efforts to make sure that they are not being undermined,” Rice was quoted as saying.

During her two-day visit to this region, Rice is scheduled to participate in a three-way meeting with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad after meeting with a number of senior Israeli officials and holding talks with Fayyad.

Rice is also scheduled to visit the West Bank city Ramallah for a meeting with Abbas before heading back to Israel for a closed meeting with Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni. The two will also hold a joint press conference.

On Sunday evening, Rice is scheduled to hold another three-way meeting with Livni and chief Palestinian negotiator Ahmed Qurei to discuss the disagreements between Israel and the PNA on the core issues, including Jerusalem, the refugees and the permanent borders of a future Palestinian state.